Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Sheltering in Place: Part I: Commitment

February 7th, 2017, Promulgated by Diane Harris

ScreenShot445This posting begins a multi-part new series.  I pray to have the energy, time and guidance to bring it to fruition, and that others will participate, and especially that it will be for the good of souls. We are all treading on some unfamiliar ground.

There are already related posts, comments and links on Cleansing Fire regarding the evolving Vatican situation, and its reverberation through the ranks of the faithful. The division in the Church, the silent lack of direction, the apparent deviations among the  hierarchy from God’s own Teaching, the unanswered dubia of Four Cardinals, and the challenges to us, “the little ones” in the pew, all testify to the problems. There is no need to reiterate what has already been made obvious.  Whether or not we are entering “end times” is even a question some of us may have, especially as we deeply consider Christ’s own words:  


“… when the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?”  (Luke 18:8)


Sheltering in Place – Part I: Commitment

As a child, when the school siren sounded, I hid under my classroom desk and pulled my green-and-every-conceivable-color plaid woolen coat over my head in anticipation of a Russian nuclear attack.  A few years later, when we no longer fit under the desks, we’d gather in the hallway, face to the wall, waiting for the Russian bombs.  The memorable scenes include the mild disappointment that nothing – NOTHING — ever happened.  Eventually a bell rang, and we quietly filed back into Sister Mary Liguori’s math class.

What we did, in those days, is described today as “Sheltering in Place.” It’s the same advice for dealing with several modern threats, especially terrorism of various kinds, whether in schools, malls, churches or theaters.  Don’t try to make a run for it; stay together; go into lock-down mode until the threat has passed.

Recently, regarding issues of concern in the Church today, I suggested we share some thoughts about personally navigating such a difficult period, waiting and hoping for the Lord Himself to intervene. Musing about the history of the people of God, whether they were trying to make bricks without straw, hiding out in catacombs, or being subverted by heresies seemingly held by many who should know better, we can see that persecution is always just around the next corner. Today’s persecution in the U. S. may not be as dramatic as the bloody martyrdom being horrifically suffered elsewhere, especially in Syria, but the stakes are the same. The objective of evil is consistent; what is being stalked is the soul. Knowing that, many other decisions are somewhat easier to make, and of paramount importance.

Where would we go?

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 6, dozens of disciples are scandalized about Christ’s words, repeated several times, in essence: “For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”  (John 6:55-56). Christ did not back off His Teaching; rather, He made it even more emphatic. In Chapter 6, verse 66 (note the 666 combination), are the heartbreaking, life-destroying words:  “After this many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him.”  Jesus does not try to stop them; He did not soften His words then, and He does not soften His Teaching now. Instead, He honors man’s free-will and asks the Apostles:  “Do you also wish to go away?”  Then we read: “Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6: 67-69).

About the current situation in the Catholic Church, we ask what Peter asked: “To whom shall we go?”  For we realize, with crystal clarity, there is NO ONE else to whom we can go, no other Church or faith group has what Christ gave to His Church; i.e. the words of eternal life. And not just the Words, for He, Himself, is the Word, and nowhere is that Word more fully present than in the Catholic Church.  Until we fully realize that Peter’s reality is our reality, anything else we do to “Shelter in Place” will be built on sandy soil, eventually reaching a point of erosion. Without the Sacrament of Reconciliation, without the Holy Eucharist, there is no foundation of support (whatever else may lurk under the shade of “ecumenism.”)

How do we prepare to “Shelter in Place?”

Before identifying in subsequent posts in this series such practical steps as stockpiling a few Catechisms and Bibles before they get revised, or protecting against “fake ‘church’ news” from suspect media, the most important thing we can do is to discern prayerfully where we are personally in our individual commitment to what Christ taught.  To do that effectively, the first step is realizing that there really is nowhere else to go.  It is an essential realization, to deepen our resolve.

Having ‘nowhere else to go’ is a strategic resolve; it is the reason some fighting forces through history have burned bridges behind themselves, making escape or running away impossible.  God brings us to a Red Sea that we can’t cross, so that we know when we do cross it, the help came from Him and not from our own strength. That same resolve also echoed in Churchill’s words to his countrymen, mobilizing the commitment of the English people: Never give in.  Never give in.  Never, never, never, never …. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

Even more to the point, we can remember Christ’s setting His Face to go to Jerusalem, and how, therefore, the Samaritans would not receive Him: Luke 9:51-53. Without such commitment, it is tempting to reject the fabric of belief, a piece at a time. But “setting our face” to faithfulness to the Lord is almost guaranteed to be met with hostility from others.  Such hostility can even be a sign of opposition to righteousness. But faithfulness requires that we set hand to the plow and not turn back. No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62.)

For a final inspiration regarding commitment we have the words of the second successor of St. Peter in Antioch, St. Ignatius, in his writings when he was on his way, in chains, via ship to Rome, to be thrown to the lions  The Office of Readings for Oct. 17th, the Memoria of the Bishop St. Ignatius of Antioch, contains the following resolve from his writings:

“… I am writing to all the churches and assuring them that I am truly in earnest about dying for God – if only you yourselves put no obstacles in the way. I must implore you to do me no such untimely kindness; pray leave me to be a meal for the beasts, for it is they who can provide my way to God.  I am His wheat, ground fine by the lions’ teeth to be made purest bread for Christ. So intercede with Him for me, that by their instrumentality I may be made sacrifice to God.”

Most of us don’t have the strength to echo St. Ignatius’ words. That is probably a good thing; reasonable fear keeps us preserving life, and doing the work we’ve been called to do. The resolve of an Ignatius is a gift from God, as is His timing.  What we are called to do, especially if it requires the ability to endure and persevere, needs God to open the Way.  And, if it is His Will, then He gives the grace when needed. Our role is prayerful discernment and commitment. For us, we must be “all in” or we are not “in at all.” This is a crucial basis of all that comes next.

Discernment, Sharing, Wondering

The situation today, and likely what lies ahead, needs deep discernment. I don’t claim to have it, only to need it.  Christ’s words are clear that we need to discern and prepare, and to count the cost: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’”  Luke 14:28-30.  Commitment has a very big cost.

The thrust of the planned posts will be to share how we are preparing ourselves for what already is one of the worst threats to Faith since the Arian Heresy, not to take sides or to teach, but to share possible answers to the question of how we prepare ourselves for what might become even more difficult times, a threat to souls, and how we embrace our own personal responsibility.

We may wonder why this broad weakening in commitment to Church Teaching is happening in our time? On our ‘watch,’ so to speak. “Why” is always a difficult question about the Holy Spirit’s timing, but we might consider two possibilities.  The first is a gift – the opportunity to pick up our crosses and follow Christ as He commanded, and with all that entails.  The second is Uncle Mordecai’s explanation to Esther: “Who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4: 14c). And perhaps those two possibilities are actually the same one?


15 Responses to “Sheltering in Place: Part I: Commitment”

  1. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Recently I was exhorted to read the article entitled IN SEARCH OF A CITY by Charles E. Moore. Could the author have inadvertently provided us with practical strategies to SHELTER IN PLACE?

  2. Ben Anderson says:

    good post, Diane. I think you described the situation well. I was reminded of Dom Guéranger’s reflection on this past Sunday’s Gospel:

    The Kingdom of Heaven, here spoken of by our Lord, is the Church Militant,- the society of them that believe in him. And yet, the field he has tilled with so much care is oversowed with cockle; heresies have crept in, scandals have abounded; are we, on that account, to have misgivings about the foresight of the Master, who knows all things, and without whose permission nothing happens? Far from us be such a thought! He himself tells us that these things must needs be. Man has been gifted with free-will; it is for him to choose between good and evil; but, God will turn all to his own greater glory. Heresies, then, like weeds in a field, may spring up in the Church; but the day must come when they will be uprooted; some of them will wither on the parent-stems, but the whole cockle shall be gathered into bundles to burn. Where are now the heresies that sprang up in the first ages of the Church? And in another hundred years, what will have become of the heresy, which, under the pretentious name of The Reformation, has caused incalculable evil? It is the same with the scandals which rise up within the pale of the Church; – they are a hard trial; but trials must come. The Divine Husbandman wills not that this cockle be torn up, lest the wheat should suffer injury. First of all, the mixture of good and bad is an advantage; it teaches the good not to put their hopes in man, but in God. Then too, the mercy of our Lord is so great, that at times the very cockle is converted, by Divine grace, into wheat. We must, therefore, have patience. But, whereas it is when the men are asleep that the enemy oversows the field with cockle, it behoves us to pray for Pastors, and ask their Divine Master to bless them with that Vigilance, which is the primary condition of the flock being safe, and is so essential a quality in every Bishop, that his very name is, – one who watches.

  3. JLo says:

    Re the article you posted, Dominick, I’m wondering how long Bruderhof-type communities of the people of the Way (first Catholic communal societies) lasted and what made them disappear. Do you know? We learn of them in Acts, but I don’t know much else about them.

  4. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Hi JLo,
    I only learned of Bruderhof Anabaptist Community when I received by email an attachment to the aforementioned article “In Search Of A City”.

    However, over 25 years ago I read something about Catholics, inspired by the Charismatic Renewal, who formed ecumenical covenant communities similar to what we read about in ACTS. See

    Whether or not these attempts to live like the WAY in ACTS provides us with plausible strategies to faithfully give witness to Christ, to his Gospel and to His Church during the current crisis is a matter of profound discernment and commitment.

  5. militia says:

    Does anyone know why the diocese is going to hold a 101 course on Islam in the basement of the Cathedral?

  6. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    I didn’t even know there was a what; Islam 101?!

    For a number of months I have been reading English translations of The Holy Qur’an as well as commentary excerpts of the meanings of various verses crafted by ‘moderate’ adherents of Islam. Rather than just accept what the media says about ‘Islamophobia’ or accept and repeat the mantra that “terrorists who claim they are killing for Allah are perverting Islam, a religion of peace”, I have decided to research, study and discover for myself.

    I would be pleasantly surprised (really surprised and pleased) if the presenter of this diocesan introductory course approaches the subject with the same erudition, expertise and honest objectivity as the scholars who have been introducing me to Islam.

    Will I attend? No thank you. The last time I was in the Cathedral for an Islamic/Catholic interfaith gathering, a half a dozen Muslim men surrounded me at the end of the event enthusiastically exhorting me to find the truth in Islam. Perhaps they picked me out for their invitations to learn Islamic truth because I had announced earlier at the microphone that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead for our justification. I held up a Rosary with a crucifix to emphasize this fundamental and major difference between Catholic Christianity and Islam.

    For an example of what I have witnessed, thanks to the Franciscan University at Steubenville, see:

  7. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Will we also eventually need to “Shelter In Place” because of the unwillingness to tell the truth about Islam……?

    Regis Martin, a systematic theologian and college professor, demonstrates the courage to exercise the freedom of speech in

  8. Ben Anderson says:

    “Islam 101” classes

    Saturdays February 18 and 25, 2017

    Approx. 5:15 p.m.

    Sacred Heart Cathedral Basement Hall – 296 Flower City Park, Rochester

    The Cathedral Community will host two “Islam 101” classes after the 4:00 p.m. Mass on February 18 and 25. The presentations will be led by Dr. Joseph Kelly, professor emeritus of religious studies at Nazareth College. The presentations will focus on the origins, history and practices of Islam and will seek to eliminate the uncertainity and fear that oftens colors our preception of the Muslim community. The classes are free. A reservation is not required, but a call ahead would be appreciated as a light supper will be provided. Please call 585-254-3221 ext. 104.

  9. JLo says:

    Good read from Regis Martin, Dominick; thank you. You can add this Fr. George Rutler article as a worthy instruction.
    Would that there were more voices in the Church like Fr. Rutler.
    I hope someone reports in Cleansingfire about that Islam 101 thing being held today at the Cathedral. I fear it will be a presentation following the lead of Pope Frances about how benign is Islam, dumbing down even more people!

  10. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    I do not know if anyone will be reporting on that ‘Islam 101 thing’ being held at the Cathedral.

    Hi JLo, I agree that voices like Father Rutler’s are in short supply. Yet Thanks Be To God for talented and graced Church Men and Women courageous enough to speak and write what runs afoul of currently promoted prudential judgment. However, announcing Islam not to be a religion of peace might some day make one vulnerable to accusations of heresy or schism.

    Mr. Robert Spencer, on August 13, 2016 reported the following:

    “Last Wednesday, I had a lively discussion with Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas, on Relevant Radio’s Drew Mariani Show, on whether or not Islam was a religion of violence. Msgr. Swetland argued not only that Islam was a religion of peace, but that to believe otherwise was to place oneself in opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

    Msgr. Swetland has now helpfully supplied me with remarks clarifying his position and supporting it with statements of various Popes and the Second Vatican Council. Msgr. Swetland contends that statements of recent Popes to the effect that Islam is a religion of peace fall into the category of teachings to which Catholics must give “religious assent,” as per a quotation from the Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium 25.

    If Msgr. Swetland is correct, then I am, as he puts it, “a dissenter from the papal magisterium.” So also, then, would be millions of other Catholics, including Catholics from the Middle East who have borne the brunt of Muslim persecution of Christians and know what Islam teaches, such as the gentleman from Lebanon who phoned in to the Mariani Show during my discussion with Msgr. Swetland. If Msgr. Swetland is correct, then Catholics must affirm that Islam is a religion of peace as part and parcel of being Catholic, and the Catholic Church will be requiring that its faithful affirm the truth of what is an obvious and egregious falsehood…..”

    Personally, I think professors of Franciscan University and experts like Robert Spencer represent the opinions of faithful Catholics unafraid to speak in love what seems to be the historical and contemporary experiences of Islam rooted in the religion’s own sacred writings.

  11. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Please allow me to post yet another video from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in which Mr. Robert Spencer lectures on
    “The Theological Aspects of Islam That Lead To Jihad” October, 2015.

  12. JLo says:

    I don’t know Msgr. Swetland, Dominick; I am familiar with Robert Spencer’s work and heard him speak at a conference at Franciscan U. I believe that poor man still must travel with security guards lest a peaceful Moslem kill him.

    I will take as primary Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s view of Islam (and Fr. Rutler’s obvious concurrence). Fr. Mitch says it’s a heresy. I can’t believe the Church insists we owe reverence to a heresy (which is why I have no patience for Pope Francis’ esteem for the “Reformation” heresy anniversary, but that’s a subject for another day). Please read Fr. Pacwa on Islam.

  13. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    JLo, you might find interesting a New York Times bestseller “DEFEATING JIHAD The Winnable War” by Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

    Sometime in the recent past Mr. Spencer announced that his best friend and most trusted security guard for many years died of a heart attack. Eternal Rest Grant him, O Lord, and please continue , Lord, to provide Mr. Spencer with the necessary security which keeps him safe. Amen.

    Thank you for the article by Father Mitch Pacwa entitled “Christianity and Islam, Are We At War”. While I found helpful Father Pacwa’s retelling of Islam’s origins, early history and various sectarian developments, as well as the nationalist, tribal, and caliphate/empire distinctions, I had already learned of the so-called Mecca verses and Medina verses in the Qur’an.

    Christmas 2015 a son gave me the book “HERETIC Why Islam Needs A Reformation Now” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Not only was I reminded of abrogation in the Qur’an ( when Allah wills that a verse or verses earlier revealed are abrogated and replaced by other later revealed verses), I learned of the Mecca peace verses and the Medina war verses. Apparently, because the Prophet did not have a strong following in Mecca, peace was emphasized. Then once numbers of followers grew in Medina, war verses were revealed and the Prophet’s conquest by the sword was supported by both numbers and revelation. As such, the peace verses were abrogated and replaced. If I am not mistaken, It is an Islamic strategy that when Muslims are a minority population in a region the peace verses are emphasized and once the region in question has the majority population the subjugation/submission verses are emphasized. (I spoke with an Imam in late Sepember 2001. He responded to my question about Muslim converts to Christianity at risk of being killed with the non-explanation that I have to understand the culture. Hmm, I guess that means majority of Muslims in a region shape the culture and the penalty of apostasy is death.)

    All of these approaches more likely than not demonstrate what Father Pacwa writes about no Islamic magisterium and individual interpretation. However, when Muslim lands are under attack the defensive war verses go into effect and when there is a Caliphate the offensive war verses go into effect. Today’s Islamic State claim to be the Caliphate form the basis of their offensive measures.

    A last thought…. while I originally understood this post “Shelter In Place” to be an introduction to forming strategies on how to best live out authentic Catholic Faith during the current Church crisis, I can’t help but believe that unwillingness to stand up fearlessly against the demonic attacks upon Catholic faith, morality and mission emboldens and strengthens particular followers of the Prophet who deny Jesus is the Son of God, crucified, died, buried and risen for our salvation.

  14. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Good Morning… Happy Monday

    As the Zarcone’s give thanks and praise to God and petition him on behalf of friends and family undergoing medical and dental procedures, we are again being warned by William Kilpatrick…..

    Regarding a Georgetown Professor who supports Islamic slavery and rape, Kirkpatrick concludes:

    “While Georgetown is busy fighting “Islamophobia,” Christians are being enslaved in Africa, and exterminated in the Middle East. What we are witnessing is not a misunderstanding between cultures, but the unfolding of a spiritual war—one with a bloody physical front. Most Christians are hardly aware that the battle has been joined. And some—like those at Georgetown—are naively abetting the wrong side. By its silence over the Islamic slavery issue, Georgetown has taken one more step into the darkness. Other Catholics would be foolish to follow their lead.”

    As we go about our business, which of course includes loving our neighbor as ourselves, shouldn’t we open our eyes and ears to the underlying ideology which is the basis of the horrific crimes against humanity being perpetrated around the world in the name of religion?

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